Portable compressed air – could this be the future of flexible factory working?
Even those who have never shared their workspace with fellow employees are familiar with the hot desking model of office organisation. Borrowed from the naval practice of “hot racking” – where sailors on different shifts share the same bunks – it came to ascendency in the office during the 1980s, offering cost reductions through space savings.
Certain advances in technology were required to pave the way for the rise of hot desking. Chief among these was the ability of any worker to sit down at any terminal and immediately access their files, emails and other documents required to get on with the day’s tasks.
Skip forward to 2019, and it’s clear that the pressure on businesses to use resources effectively and efficiently has never been greater. The manufacturing floor is not exempt.
Changes in demand caused by weather, seasonal influences or large one-off orders require the flexibility to tailor output and production lines to meet temporary demand levels.
At a basic level this can mean operating individual machines outside of standard production times, such as overnight or during the weekends. But it might also call for a more complex re-configuration of the factory, which often leads to costly and lengthy alterations that result in disruption and downtime.
Compressed air is an integral part of most manufacturing processes, but if this is running on a centralised network of pipes, making necessary changes on the factory floor becomes a much more expensive and time-consuming task.
So, it isn’t as easy as simply shifting a machine from A to B – or is it?
At Vert, our compressors are powered by cutting-edge Conical Rotary Compressor (CRC) technology that has allowed us to create quiet and compact units that minimise disruption for nearby workers. Connecting to a standard 240V power source with quick coupling of the compressed air connection, means they can be quickly sited close to the point of use virtually wherever required.
Producing the right quantity and specification of air when and where it is needed has a significant impact on machine downtime and flexibility of factory space. A portable source of air that connects easily to a standard plug socket means there is no need for the installation of additional air pipes – saving on labour and capital costs – while the expense of training staff to use “plug and play” compressed air is also minimal.
The combination of nominal cost, less disruption and portability opens up a wider array of more efficient solutions to meet the requirements of modern manufacturing.
For example, decentralised air makes it possible to run just one extra machine for temporary use for a small batch, rather than firing up the whole of a centralised compressed air system intended for the entire factory. That’s got to be better for the environment, using only the energy that is really needed.
Ensuring the correct specification of air for each machine has the further benefit of cutting down on wear and tear, as inadequate or poorly-designed networks can reduce equipment performance through leakages and pressure drops across a centralised system.
Disruption and downtime are the major barriers when it comes to creating a truly flexible factory environment, especially when temporary changes are required. But, with a quiet, portable and easy to install source of compressed air, Vert compressors could be a solution– to this goal.